Today’s gospel is situated in a garden. There are many gardens in our lives: sometimes they are places of pleasure for our leisure hours, when we drink in sunshine and beauty, at other times, places for physical activity and closeness to the earth, places where we cry out our sorrows and losses taking comfort from the beauty of nature; places for family activity, for braais with friends, for renewing our spirits and warming our hearts. Take a moment to think of a garden wild or cultivated which is significant for you.

For Jesus, the garden of Gethsemane, was the place where he suffered and struggled to face his death, where his disciples slept while he sweated blood.
It was to a garden that his friends brought his body to be laid in a borrowed tomb. And it was in that garden that he arose from the dead on Easter Sunday morning.

The gospel today tells us that Mary Magdalene came and stood weeping outside the tomb. Her love and grief impelled her to find his body in order to take it away. It was in that garden that she met Jesus without recognizing him, thinking him to be the gardener. It was the place where Jesus called Mary by name and told her not to hold on to him. He gave her a commission to go to his brothers and sisters and tell them that he had risen and would be ascending to his Father and our Father. Jesus made her the Apostle to the Apostles, a preacher to those who would preach.

It is no coincidence that Mary Magdalen is one of our Congregation’s most beloved saints and patrons. Our gospel proclaimed that Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,’ I have seen the Lord’ and she gave them the message he had entrusted to her. She was a preacher and in her way, she was a pioneer, going on ahead, as indeed Dominican sisters were pioneers in journeying to the Eastern Cape 150 years ago and have continued to be to the present day.

It is not known if Mary Magdalene was in the minds of the six sisters who left Sion Hill in 1867 but undoubtedly her spirit and example went with them. Mothers Rose Whitty, and Thomas Kelly, Sisters Aloysius Cowley, Hyacinth Potter, Baptist Taaffe and Michael Morton were all volunteers and there was a finality fo them in knowing that they would never return to Ireland. In the garden, the rose has thorns as well as flowers; in life these sisters experienced joys as well as sorrows as do we all.

It was in Port Elizabeth that the founding sisters house began their mission to announce through their presence, the founding of schools, and the accompaniment of people , that they, like Mary Magdalen had ‘seen the Lord ‘. The garden of their endeavours was the vast and beautiful terrain from Port Elizabeth to Sunday’s River Valley.

Even though the sisters lived a largely enclosed life at the beginning and had to cope with many difficulties as they expanded their ministries, they held onto hope and had courage and belief in God and in their mission even when it seemed most under threat for lack of vocations and finance.  And this has been the way down through the 150 years.
Just as Mary Magdalen responded to Jesus ‘s love, the sisters loved and were loved by the people of this area as witnessed by the outpouring of affection and memories in recent days.

What will we say about the mission in 2017, 150 years after the founding sisters arrived in Port Elizabeth? Is it still faithful to Jesus’words in the garden? Do not hold on to me but go to my brothers and sisters. …
Are we, each one of us present , faithful to Jesus’s command to go out and preach the gospel, share the good news.?

Through a long and carefully worked process, Trusts are being established in the Mission Area, and schools cared for into the future by dedicated and committed colleagues imbued with the spirit of St Dominic. Sisters, while no longer directly involved in schools are still proclaiming, by their presence , prayer and compassion that they have ‘seen the Lord. ‘

Sisters proclaim the Resurrection by their faith that the future is in God’s hands and that they meet whatever comes with joy and recognition that the Lord IS in the garden though he may not be immediately recognisable. Mary Magdalen and the founding sisters’ pioneering spirit is as essential today as it was in former times, especially when facing turmoil in the country and diminishment in the Congregation. We need now, more than ever, the tenacity and faith of Dominic who faced rejection and failure during his nine years in Fanjeaux before founding his Order of Preachers.

The first reading says: ‘therefore I prayed and understanding was given me; I called upon God and the spirit of wisdom came to me. ‘ How many times must the founding sisters and those who came after them have called on God for the wisdom to make right choices, not least when schools were razed to the ground or at a later stage, opened to all children in defiance of the law…a prophetic and pioneering action.

The celebration of 150 years of mission and ministry in the Eastern Cape gives a moment to give thanks for the past, to cherish and take pride in what has been and to say ‘yes’ as that other Mary, our Mother did, to all that is to come! We can take pride in the past, ask forgiveness for any failures of the Congregation and above all pray for this beautiful country and its people. Just as Jesus told Mary not to hold on to him, we will not cling to what is passed but will be ready, all of us ,with pioneering Dominican hearts to go to our brothers and sisters as we are asked to do in the second reading, announcing to them by our lives and example that’ we have seen the Lord.’

Sr. Elisabeth Healy OP
Congregation Prioress

You are invited to an afternoon exhibition of paintings by the artist Deirdre Quinn

100% of proceeds to benefit Ruhama

When? Saturday, 09 December 2017, 11AM – 5PM
Where? The Sol Art Gallery, Dawson Street, Dublin 2

For more information, or to RSVP, please email or call (01) 836 – 0292

All proceeds raised through the exhibition will be used to directly benefit the 300+ women Ruhama works with who are affected by prostitution and sex trafficking. A raffle drawing for an original painting by Deirdre Quinn will be held!

This is Deirdre’s second exhibition in support of Ruhama, and we thank Deirdre for her for her most generous contribution.

Ruhama is a Dublin-based NGO which works on a national level with women affected by prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation.
Their services are comprehensive to meet the broad range of experiences of women affected by prostitution.
We provide a service to women who are currently involved in on-street and off-street prostitution; women who are exiting prostitution; women who are victims of sex trafficking; and women who have a history of prostitution.

Solemn Evening Prayer 23 November  2017 to celebrate the anniversary of  the arrival of six Dominican Sisters sent from Sion Hill, Dublin  in 1867 to Port ELizabeth, SA 

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Homilist Sr. Francis Krige OP                                                                                                                                                                                   Mission Area Prioress SA,

   2 Peter 1:19-21

We possess the prophetic word that is unwavering. Pay careful attention to this word, as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. You know that we do not interpret a prophetic writing on our own. No prophecy was ever initiated by human effort, but women and men moved by the Holy Spirit have spoken on behalf of God.                                                                                                                                                                                  The purpose for which Peter addressed the Christians of his time was to make every effort to enthuse them to pay attention to, to listen and to hear the gospel message to love and to live it. He assures them of the reliability of the message because he, Peter, along with James and John were present at the transfiguration and they heard the voice of God – this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, listen to him -and although the prophetic message comes through human voices, these prophets are moved by the Spirit. No prophecy is initiated by human effort.

St. Paul captured well this gift of wisdom in his letter to the Corinthians: “What we utter is God’s wisdom: a mysterious, a hidden wisdom. …Yet God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit. (I Cor 2:6ff).

In the fresco of the transfiguration painted by Fra Angelico, a Dominican friar and artist of the 15th century, included with the radiant figure of Christ, are the three disciples, Peter, James and John, Moses and the prophet Elijah through whom God spoke. Fra Angelico also includes in his fresco Mary and Dominic.

In the book of the prophet Amos 3:7 ,God explains that: “The Lord God does nothing, without revealing God’s plan to God’s servants the prophets.

Moses’ life is a response of faith to God’s revelation. Moses was aware of his mission to free his people from slavery and he was guided by his trust in God’s promise to take the chosen people to the Promised Land.

Mary, included in the fresco, below Moses, fulfilled her mission by saying “Yes” to the will of God to give birth to God’s Son whose mission was to free all people from the slavery of sin through His life, death and resurrection and thus opening the way to the true Promised Land, Heaven.

Elijah the Tishbite lived in the kingdom of Israel during the eighth century BC. His name means “my God is the Lord,” and sums up the central role of his mission: to remind people that there is only one true God and that God alone should be worshipped.

Pope Francis replying to the question in the Gospel how many people will be saved?  Said “It doesn’t matter how many, but it is important that everyone knows which path leads to salvation. The same concern expressed by Pope Francis now, was the concern of Dominic 800 years ago. His anxiety was around the right for everyone to know the truth and mercy of God – but what was God sending him to do?

Fanjeaux is the area in France in which Dominic began his ministry of itinerant preaching; met his first companions and formed the first community of Holy Preaching. He spent nearly 7 years actively waiting in Fanjeaux – preaching and speaking only to God and about God.

He often prayed at a spot called Seignadou and it was while praying there that God opened Dominic’s heart to God’s will for him.

He founded an Order to preach the Gospel word of truth imitating the life pattern of the first Apostles in evangelical poverty.

Let your words and lives be the good news the world craves.

As members of the Dominican Family we are called to be   servants of the word that went out from God and was made flesh’. Jn1:14.

How we live our lives gives witness to our preaching.

The quality of our lives as preachers will depend on the extent to which we are able to pay attention to God’s word – listening to the word and keeping it; listening to the word and putting it into practice; keeping it and pondering on these things as Mary did. Paying attention requires silence and an openness to hear the word and to heed to what we hear and to be transformed by what we hear, changed. This paying attention to the word is essential to our being Dominican. This way of searching for truth will always lead to love.

Jubilee is a time to re-member – to look again at ‘who I am, as a Dominican, and who we are as Dominicans in South Africa and to remember the purpose for which  the Order was founded – sent to preach the Gospel of truth and mercy.

Today – the day on which 6 Cabra Dominican Sisters arrived in PE 150 years ago, we give thanks for God’s love and faithfulness over all these years and we also look to the horizon – to what is emerging!

At the request of Bishop Moran, 6 Sisters arrived in Port Elizabeth from Sion Hill, Ireland, on this day 150 years ago-sent to preach the gospel in a very specific way – through educating children in schools.

So over the 150 years schools were opened usually a fee paying school and at the same time a free school in order to carry out the mission for which the sisters were called and sent to PE. During the pilgrimages organised during the week some of you will have visited the places where the schools were established in the two areas – PE initially and then 20 years later in Uitenhage and then the Sunday’s River Valley.

6 seemed to be the magical number of sisters sent-  6 Sisters arrived in Cape Town in 1863 sent from Cabra, Ireland, 6 arrived in PE sent from Sion Hill in 1867 and 6 were sent from PE to Uitenhage 20 years later. The Dominican Sisters who came to SA were sent out 6X6 – sent to form a community for mission.

For Dominic, the paying attention to the word was so important, that he entrusted the ministry of preaching to the community.

It was from communities that sisters were sent out

  • to open new schools – 13 in Port Elizabeth; 7 in Uitenhage; 2 in Kirkwood and 1 in Wesbank;
  • To be a presence amongst the people of Tsolo, Gelvandale and Kleinskool;
  • To minister in the townships of Walmer, Kwa Nobuchle and Langa

It was not individuals who made the decision.

It is the community that supports the sisters in their ministry – in times of joy and difficulty.

The community, through living their life of prayer, sharing of goods, compassion and solidarity with the poor faithfully, gives witness to their preaching.

It is the community that helps each one to be mutually attentive to the cries of humanity.

Initially formal school education was the major thrust to serve the cries of humanity in Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and the Sunday’s River Valley but as time went on the sisters engaged in other aspects of education and formation. Justice and peace is always integral to the mission of the Sisters and those associated with them in ministry

If we look at the current situation in SA, education remains an essential call of humanity

The fall of apartheid and the onset of democracy may have given South Africans political freedom but this is just one component of freedom.

Freedom entails the absence of constraints as well as access to the means to live a meaningful life.

150 years later freedom through education is a crying need and thus the effort being given now to the establishment of Catholic School Trusts so that quality value-based education can continue into the future – an education in which we build the values of trust, love, peace, and honesty – working for the common good.

The TRUST we need to live out our lives in society, the sense of safety without which our daily lives cannot be lived in freedom, are being eroded with each new and confusing turn of events.

Truth and mercy – where is it being modelled today if as Pope Francis says

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly selfish and short-sighted. Individuals and organizations are driven toward progress and advancement without consideration of the common good.

In many ways, this is the reason why our environment has been significantly destroyed and the consequences of climate change loom before us. We have lost sight of our social nature and become obsessed with pursuing our individual needs even if it makes others suffer. This kind of mentality goes against the very core of what it means to be a child of God.

What are we being called to be attentive to now as we hear the word of God?

What generous and compassionate action are we called to in our present reality as connected beings in a connected universe?

We are called to act justly

We are called to love tenderly

We are called to serve one another and to walk humbly with our God, remembering that

there is no peace without Justice;

there is no justice without love and

that the search for truth leads to love – love of God and love of the other.

May we be transformed by paying attention to the God’s word so that the truthfulness of what we believe, lies in the way we live our lives.

And then through our words and actions the human love that is the incarnate God will invincibly prevail.

Sr. Francis Krige OP (Mission Area Prioress, SA )


300 years conclusion:

Previous instalments reviewed the settlement and growth of a group of Galway Dominican nuns in Dublin from 1717. The story described the trials, tribulations, and challenges they faced in Penal days, with decreasing numbers and increasing debts owed to them. 102 years after their arrival, in Dublin, (followed by a few years in Clontarf), the final destination of the Dublin Dominican nuns was Cabra,(Dublin). In May 1819, Fr Cruise, (a Dominican priest and their community chaplain in Clontarf) was instrumental in the purchase of a house and seven acres in Cabra. The nuns stayed in Clontarf until their lease there expired. During those months, however, two nuns accompanied an ailing Sister to Cabra, hoping that the country air would be beneficial to her. Sadly she died during the night. On December 12th, 1819, the community of five finally moved Cabra. It would never have occurred to them, that during the following 200 years Cabra Dominican Community would “grow” into a Congregation with branches, not only in a number of towns/cities in Ireland but also worldwide, with missionary foundations and various ministries (still existing) in South Africa, Australia, Louisiana and Latin America. Details of the growth, and in some instances, the death of old branches, are described in sections of our website. Most of the details of the instalments of this series are quoted from Sr Maire Kealy’s book “From Channel Row to Cabra” (2010). Deo Gratias


From Sr. Maris Stella McKeown, Archivist, Mission Area of Ireland

For more details, see this website link WHO WE ARE, with Drop down menu –HISTORY and BOOKS.

The drop down menu in WHAT WE DO provides insights into how and where the seed, planted in Dublin in 1717, has grown and sprouted other branches in the following three centuries.

Below is a letter from Fr Bruno Cadoré (Master of the Order), Fr Mike Deeb (General Promoter for Justice and Peace), and Sr Cecilia Espenilla (DSI International Promoter for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) in relation to using the Advent period to focus on peace, and with a particular focus this year on Columbia.  Two other supporting documents are also attached.

Letter to all members of the Dominican Family

Month of Peace II

Month of Peace III

This year the 36th annual Knockadoon Music and Liturgy Course took place from 6th – 12th August in Knockadoon Dominican Camp, Co. Cork.

Our theme this year was “Seek the Lord.” Through our various liturgies, we unraveled this theme, considering how we might seek the Lord, how God might seek us, how we might allow ourselves be found by Him. We explored what our faith and our calling means and how we can respond to the vocation that is ours as baptised Christians.

Twice each day, we gathered for prayer as a community – singing and praying Morning and Evening Prayer, walking the labyrinth, praying with Taizé, partaking in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and celebrating Mass. In our liturgies, various members of the Team shared their interpretation of the chosen Scripture, each of which focused on the broad theme of seeking – and finding – God. We heard about lost sheep, lost coins, lost children, being lost, about pilgrimage and walking the labyrinth, about walking the Camino, about the differences between God and the X-Factor judges, about forgiveness, about God’s incredible love of us!

Srs. Noelle Jennings, Kathleen Fitzsimons and Eileen O’Connell

Team 2017 included Dominicans: Fr. Philip McShane, Br. Kevin Leavy, and myself.  Affectionately known as Papa Razzi, Fr. Philip spends much of the week camera in hand, taking hundreds and hundreds of photographs. He celebrated Mass with us on the Feast of St. Dominic and on our final morning, and facilitated the sacraments of reconciliation along with Fr. Maurice Colgan OP.  This was Br. Kevin’s first year on team and we look forward to having him with us again next year.

Sr. Eileen O’Connell OP

“The Amazon, the green heart of the Earth, is mourning and the life it sustains is withering,” begins a statement released by the World Council of Churches Executive Committee as it met in Amman, Jordan from 17-23 November.

Read more here from World Council of Churches website

As we read in the Gospel of John, Jesus was a gift from God, who “so loved the world.” (John 3:16)
During the season of Advent, we have the opportunity to deepen our own sense of love for the world. Protecting creation and vulnerable people is an important way to love.
GCCM (Global Catholic Climate Movement)  have produced a brand-new Advent resource kit to help you to reflect on the call to care for our common home and to live out your call through concrete actions.

The resource kit contains:
• Creation-themed Advent calendars
• List of the top 5 ways to green your Christmas
• Kids’ coloring pages with Pope Francis and the Earth
• Advent Novena for the Creator and creation

Click below to download Advent Toolkit.

GCCM – Advent Toolkit 2017


Trinity Centre for Urban and Regional Studies  in association with The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice

Invites you to Symposium

Housing in Ireland: Philosophy, Policies and Results

Wednesday, 29 November 2017, 5–7 p..m.

Joly Theatre, Hamilton Building, Westland Row Trinity College Dublin

This Symposium will provide a critical analysis of:
• Alternative philosophical approaches to housing
• The policies currently being pursued
• The results: affordability and new homes


Sinéad Kelly, Department of Geography, Maynooth University
‘Neo-liberalism and its Impact on Housing Systems’

P.J. Drudy, Trinity College Dublin
‘Market Failure: Out-of-Reach House Prices and Rents’

Peter McVerry SJ, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice
‘Homelessness: Have We Lost our sense of Outrage?’

Rory Hearne, Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute
‘New Inequalities in Irish Housing’

Daithi Downey, Dublin City Council
‘Sustainablility, Affordability and Choice: Towards a Cost Rental and Unitary Rental System’

Cian O’Callaghan and Philip Lawton, School of Geography, Trinity College Dublin
‘The Challenge and Opportunities of Vacant Space: Unfinished Legacy of the Property Crash’

Margaret Burns, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice
‘The Right to Housing: What is the Issue?’

Margaret Burns ( or P.J. Drudy (

From: Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice
26 Upper Sherrard Street
Dublin, Dublin 7

Advent Centering Prayer Day, 16th December with Fionnuala Quinn O.P.

Saturday, 16 December  2017 | 10.00am – 4.00pm | Cost €30.00

Venue :  Margaret Aylward Centre for Faith and Dialogue

Holy Faith Sisters,
Glasnevin, D11 TC21
Tel : (01) 797 9364
Mob: 087 6649862

Theme: The presence of the Divine in us is the permanent self-giving of God to every human person.

As we journey to Christmas deepen your awareness of the Divine within yourself – for that is what Christmas is all about.

Come and taste the silence.


Fionnuala Quinn O.P. is a Dominican Sister. She opened Contemplative Outreach Dublin in 2007 and presently serves as International Coordinator for Contemplative Outreach Ltd. She resides in Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

Click here for more information